Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has not yet declared whether he's running for president, joked about the rapidly growing Republican field during an appearance Monday at Gov. Rick Scott's Florida Economic Growth Forum.
"We've got 75 people running I think, last time I checked?" He asked. "I haven't checked how many people announced today." He did add, however, that "every one of the candidates running is far more qualified and would have been a better president than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton."
Governor Bush went on to promise that should he run for the White House, "my intention is to run on my record, my ideas, and run to try to win the presidency." Still, he conceded that a cutthroat primary would be tough to avoid: "There's going to be some elbows and knees under the board here...this isn't tiddly winks we're playing."
Still, Mr. Bush demurred from criticizing Kentucky senator and 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul outright, sending a less specific broadside toward "many on the left, and a few on our team," for endangering national security by delaying reauthorization of bulk data collection under the Patriot Act.
Bush was addressing a crowd at Florida Governor Rick Scott's economic growth summit. His home field advantage was obvious among the candidates who addressed the invitation-only audience gathered at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center. While Republican governors like Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Texas' Rick Perry touted their own executive experience, an at-ease Bush talked with comfort and specificity about what was going on in his home state of Florida, praising the state for "applying conservative principles in the right way." He highlighted improvement in wages, education, and job growth under Republican governors.
Bush even recognized some supporters in the audience. He asked one participant how his business was going, prompting a shout out from host Rick Scott, who told Bush, "You were really good!" as he exited the stage.